Chapter 13Bullshitters, Liars, and Jerks

There are three kinds of people we don't want to be in business with – and I think that's true for most people, regardless of which side of the deal you are on. They fall into three basic categories: bullshitters, liars, and jerks. Every so often you'll come across someone who has characteristics of each.

In this chapter, I'm going to tell you what each of these looks like from our side (the investor's side) of the table. In the next chapter, I'll look at it from your side: what bullshitters, liars, and jerks look like to founders.


Bullshitters can be spinners, exaggerators, and even entertainers. Bullshitters, especially the entertaining ones, often don't even know they're doing it – it's just who they are.

It's not uncommon in the startup world for CEOs to try to hide their weaknesses and disappointing results, expecting to overcome them later. This is about spinning/exaggerating. If someone does this – which I consider a form of bullshitting – they have to make sure they don't cross the line to telling outright lies.

This practice of sweeping issues under the rug (in the hopes of fixing them before anyone knows the difference) is common in the world of small, private, venture-backed companies because it's easy to hide issues. After all, the CEO controls everything, there is no one looking over their shoulder, and at this stage, they're probably not getting audited.

For one quarter, a CEO might think, “Oh, well, we'll ...

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